Taiwan’s Kevin Yu fired eight birdies as he took a one-shot lead after the first round of The Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.

Yu carded a bogey-free 64 on the North Course at Torrey Pines, a birdie at the last edging him ahead of America’s Patrick Cantlay and Japan’s Ryo Hisatsune.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry and England’s Aaron Rai are among a group a further shot back after opening 66s, along with former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, Germany’s Thomas Detry and Alejandro Tosti of Argentina.

Nicolai Hojgaard, who finished seventh at the Dubai Desert Classic, and America’s Nick Hardy were the best of those who started on the more difficult South Course – their 67s leaving them amid a large group on five-under-par.

Hojgaard’s first start as a full-time member of the PGA Tour came despite jetlag and just nine holes on the North Course in practice.

“You’ve got to try to find a way,” the Danish Ryder Cup star told the PGA Tour website. “I’ll just push myself until we feel like the jetlag’s gone.”

“I think sometimes you can take advantage of not knowing the golf course and you’re just thinking about your execution. I felt like that was the only thing I was doing today.”

Luke Donald has appointed Edoardo Molinari as his first vice-captain for Europe’s Ryder Cup defence at Bethpage Black in 2025.

Molinari’s statistical analysis played a key role in Europe regaining the trophy in Rome last year with a five-point victory over the United States at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

The 42-year-old former US Amateur champion, who also played on a winning team in 2010, said: “I’m very happy. It’s something that I’m very proud of and probably means I did a pretty decent job last time, so I cannot wait to help the team and Luke again in Bethpage and I’m really looking forward to it.

“Luke called me the very day he was named captain, a little before the official announcement, and said he really enjoyed working with me in Rome and would like my help again.

“We had another chat about a week later, maybe 30 or 40 minutes on the phone, chatted about a few things and he asked me and I said of course, I would happily do it all over again.

“I think Rory put it best in the press conference after Rome, he said the most difficult thing in golf these days is to win an away Ryder Cup.

“It hasn’t been done in many years now, Luke was part of the team in Medinah, the last one that Europe won away, and hopefully we can produce something similar.”

Donald, who has never been on a losing side in five Ryder Cups as a player or captain, said: “Edoardo is someone I have got to know very well over the last couple of years and he’s going to be a great addition again for the 2025 Ryder Cup.

“He plays a very significant role. He’s around the players a lot and he works with a lot of players on their statistics as well.

“I’ll lean heavily on him with the qualification criteria and then when we get close to the matches, how the team is forming, how their skillsets match to the golf course at Bethpage and whether they’re more foursomes-related pairings, fourballs-related players, and putting those pairings together.”

US golfer Nick Dunlap won The American Express tournament by one shot to become the first amateur to take home PGA glory in 33 years.

The victory makes Dunlap the first amateur to win on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson back in 1991.

The 20-year-old University of Alabama student sank a birdie putt at the par-five 16th to equal the lead of fellow US player Sam Burns at the Pete Dye Stadium Course in La Quinta, California.

Burns then stumbled on the day’s toughest hole, finding water off the tee at the par-three 17th.

At that time, Dunlap was on the green 35 feet from the hole.

He went on to make a routine par, while Burns came out with a double bogey.

The amateur took the lead with the par-four 18th remaining, while on the 18th green, South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout birdied to pull within one.

Dunlap pulled his tee shot into the right rough, but recovered with his approach to tap in for par and claim victory with a 72-hole record low winning score of 29 under 259.

He broke the benchmark of 28 under set by US golfer Patrick Reed in 2014.

Dunlap is the youngest amateur to win on the PGA Tour since 1910.

While he will not collect the 1.5million dollars (£1.18million) prize money, he has secured his PGA Tour card for two years.

Last year, Dunlap became the only player other than Tiger Woods to claim both titles of US Junior Amateur and US Amateur.

Rory McIlroy completed the best weekend comeback of his career to successfully defend his title and win a record fourth Dubai Desert Classic.

The Northern Irishman’s previous biggest recovery with two rounds to go was from five shots back at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship but having begun round three 10 adrift he closed out a one-stroke victory at the Emirates Golf Club.

Saturday’s 63 catapulted him into contention but there were far fewer fireworks in his final round and, while McIlroy escaped with some loose shots, rivals Cameron Young and Adrian Meronk were unable to exert any meaningful pressure.

“If the scores on the weekend had been flipped and I shot 70, 63, I’d probably be like ‘Yeah, that was amazing’,” said McIlroy, who finished 14 under.

“The course definitely played a little trickier at the weekend. After I finished on Friday I thought if I shot two 67s over the weekend I would have a decent chance to win, and if that had been the case I would have tied on 13 under.

“I wasn’t too far away with the prediction and I went one better than that and ended up winning the tournament.”

McIlroy, who now has a victory and a second place in his first two starts of the season, added: “I played that front nine so well that I didn’t really have to do anything that special on the back nine just to get the thing won.

“I got away with a couple of things: I didn’t make birdie on 10 and then I made the bogey on 13. Luckily for me the guys around me didn’t make a ton of birdies on the way in.

“I knew I always had one or two shots to play with so I think that gave me a certain level of comfort.”

McIlroy began the day two shots behind leader Young but his birdie after driving the 351-yard second, combined with the American’s bogeys at four and six, saw the advantage swing a stroke in the Northern Irishman’s favour.

And with Young not recording his first birdie until the 10th, Meronk emerged as his chief challenger – briefly sharing the lead before chipping across the seventh green and into the water for a double-bogey five.

McIlroy extended his lead to three at the turn with successive birdies including from 31 feet on the eighth.

His only real moment of concern came with a first bogey in 38 holes at the 13th, where he could not escape from the waste area at the first attempt after taking an aggressive line and going too far left.

Meronk’s third birdie since the turn put him within one but then he bogeyed the 16th while McIlroy brilliantly salvaged par from the left waste area, meaning two closing pars were enough to secure his landmark win.

McIlroy’s positive start to 2024 will give him renewed optimism he can break his nine-year major drought, with the chance to complete a career Grand Slam first up at the Masters in April.

“Augusta is still a long way away in golfing terms. A lot can change in two and a half months,” he said.

“But it’s always nice nice to feel like you’re playing well going into it.

“I’ve still got some big events to come but until that first or second week in April at least a part of my mind is going to be towards getting myself absolutely ready for there.”

Rory McIlroy completed the best weekend comeback of his career to successfully defend his title and win a record fourth Dubai Desert Classic.

The Northern Irishman’s previous biggest recovery with two rounds to go was from five shots back at the 2015 BMW PGA Championship but having begun round three 10 adrift he closed out a one-stroke victory on one of his favourite courses at the Emirates Golf Club.

Saturday’s 63 had catapulted him into contention but there were far fewer fireworks in his final round and, while McIlroy escaped with some loose shots over his last few holes, rivals Cameron Young and Adrian Meronk were also guilty of scrappy play and were unable to exert any meaningful pressure.

“I didn’t really think about that (the comeback) during the course of the round,” McIlroy, who shot a one-under-par 71 to finish 14 under, told Sky Sports.

“I thought the way the course was trending, two 67s would really have a chance and the 63 put me in a great position.

“I thought on Friday night 10 under for the weekend I’d have a really good chance and I shot 11 under and won by one.

“It was a really tricky day, it was hard to get it close and make a ton of birdies. The pivotal moment came on eight and nine when I made two threes.”

McIlroy, who now has a victory and a second place in his first two starts of the season, added: “It wasn’t one of those days where there was a ton of fireworks but I held on as best I could and thankfully no-one at the top of the leaderboard made a run.

“I made that one blunder on 13 and made bogey but felt I steadied the ship well over the final few holes.”

Nick Dunlap will take a three-shot lead into the final round of The American Express tournament as he chases the first win by an amateur on the PGA Tour for 33 years.

The University of Alabama student shot 10 birdies and an eagle in a third round 60 – equalling the lowest round by an amateur in a tour event – on the La Quinta course to follow his second round 61 as he moved into pole position on 27-under-par.

Phil Mickelson was the last amateur to win on the PGA Tour in 1991.

Overnight leader Sam Burns is three shots back after a 65 at the Stadium Course, one of three used for the tournament and the site of the final round, where Justin Thomas equalled the course record with a 61 to sit a further stroke back.

South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout is the only other player within six shots of the lead.

Playing as a sponsor’s invite, Dunlap is the first amateur to make the cut at the event and while he will not collect the 1.5million dollars (£1.18million) prize money, a win would secure his PGA Tour card for two years.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy carded a stunning 63 to surge into contention on day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic but will have to get past American Cameron Young if he is to claim a fourth title at Emirates Golf Club.

The Northern Irishman carded seven birdies and a closing eagle to get to 12 under, having entered the weekend 10 shots off Young’s lead after a slow start in the desert.

He was top of the leaderboard as the world number 25 reached the turn in 37 but Young rallied with three birdies on the back nine to sign for a 71 and open up a two-shot lead at 14 under.

Former Dubai resident McIlroy has an impressive record in the emirate, with his first professional win having come in this event 15 years ago.

He has since added two more to match Ernie Els’ record of Desert Classic wins, while also lifting the trophy twice across the city at the DP World Tour Championship.

“I’ve had so much success in Dubai, whether it be at this tournament or over at Jumeirah Golf Estates and Race to Dubais,” he said.

“It’s been a really, really good place to me. I love coming back here. I really enjoy my time here. It would be amazing if I was able to get another win.

“The first player to get my name on it four times, it would be awesome.”

McIlroy hit a brilliant approach to the first, took advantage of the par-five third and then put iron shots inside 10 feet on the seventh, eighth and ninth to turn in 30.

More birdies on par fives followed on the 10th and 13th before he holed a 45-foot putt from off the green at the last for a closing eagle.

Young started with a birdie but found water on the seventh for a double-bogey and dropped a shot on the next, with gains on the 11th, 13th and 17th taking him back to the summit.

“It would be a nice feeling (to win),” said Young, who has yet to register a win on a top-tier tour.

“It’s one of those times that you feel like kind of at peace with what you’ve done and it’s something I would love to do tomorrow. I’ve put myself in another great place to have a chance and I’m happy with that.”

Pole Adrian Meronk was alongside McIlroy at 12 under after a 70, three shots clear of Dane Rasmus Hojgaard and China’s Li Haotong.

Sam Burns shot a second round 61 as he took a one-shot halfway lead at The American Express tournament in California.

Burns’ career-low round leaves him on 17 under par, one shot ahead of fellow American Michael Kim with South Korean’s KH Lee and American amateur Nick Dunlap a further shot back.

A pair of eagles and seven birdies had put Burns in with a chance of breaking 60, but he could only par the last two holes.

Dunlap, who plays at the University of Alabama, fired a 65 at the Stadium Course – one of three being used for the tournament – to follow his opening 64.

A group of six, including American Ryder Cup star Patrick Cantlay and joint overnight leader Alex Noren of Sweden, sit on 14 under par.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry shot a second round of 67 to lie seven shots off the lead.

Jamaica's Oshae Haye and Zandre Roye found the going tough in the opening round of the ninth Latin America Amateur Championship and were hoping to play catch up in the second round of action in Panama.

With some 108 golfers from Latin America and the Caribbean parading their skills at the Santa Maria Golf Club, Roye and Haye are faced with a daunting task of ascending up the order from seven over par 77 and nine over par 79 respectively. Both are now in danger of not making the cut, as the cut line will be announced at the end of the second round.

Oral Morales and Santiago De la Fuente, both of Mexico, and Guatemala's Jose Arzu of Guatemala, all locked on one under par 69 at the top of the standing.

Roye, who started out well and was in 17th position at one point, had some issues as he approached the end of the round, which resulted in a slip down the leaderboard.

"Day one completed. I shot a 77 today with a bogey and a triple bogey on the last two holes. Not the ideal finish, very bad finish, but all in all, I really hit the ball today. Hit a lot of greens, made a lot of putts. In a positive trend going into tomorrow, I think we can better that score tomorrow definitely," Roye said.

Both golfers are representing Jamaica at the championship for the first time. Justin Burrowes, who turned pro late last year, and William Knibbs have represented Jamaica in recent times.

Other representatives include Ian Facey, who is also now among the professional ranks, as well as Sean Morris and Jonathan Newnham. The island’s best placed golfer in the championship to date is Facey, who tied for 24th position in 2015 with a best round of 68 on the first day.

American Cameron Young held a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic as defending champion Rory McIlroy remained well off the pace.

Young added a second round of 64 to his opening 67 at Emirates Golf Club to reach 13 under par, with England’s Andy Sullivan and Poland’s Adrian Meronk his nearest challengers on 10 under.

Seeking a record fourth win in the event, McIlroy recorded five birdies and three bogeys in a round of 70 which left him 10 strokes off the lead.

Young, who has yet to win on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour, carded nine birdies and a solitary bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day, after finding the water left of the green with his approach.

“I putted fantastic,” the world number 25 said. “I made a couple of long ones yesterday and then made a few more today that had no right going in I feel like.

“I hit a bunch of good putts, but just one of those days where you kind of have a couple of 30-footers and you look up and they are going right in the middle, which doesn’t happen all that often to have a bunch of them in one round.

“I’m doing a really good job of staying out of my own way. Kind of realised it was going well early, but the back nine, at the same time, it feels like you should do that to some extent, especially in the morning with not much wind.”

Meronk, who won three times on the DP World Tour last year and was voted player of the year by his peers, added a flawless 66 to his opening 68, while Sullivan returned a second successive 67.

“The experience [of winning] gives you a little more confidence that you’ve done it before, so you can do it again,” Meronk said.

“The key is just to stick to your plan for your game, trust your shots, full commitment. Don’t get too ahead of yourself.

“It’s easy to say, but I think you have to experience it first and then it gets easier, but it’s never easy. But at least I have some experience under my belt.”

McIlroy looked set to climb up the leaderboard after he birdied the second and seventh, but he bogeyed the eighth after a sliced drive plugged in the desert and also dropped a shot on the ninth following another wayward tee shot.

The world number two also followed a birdie on the 10th with a bogey on the next and took an angry swipe at the rough following a fluffed pitch on the 17th, but at least ended the day on a high with a birdie from 20 feet on the 18th.

Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura threatened to card just the second 59 in DP World Tour history when he covered his first 12 holes in 10 under par thanks to an eagle and eight birdies, but bogeyed his penultimate hole and had to settle for a 63.

Nevertheless, that was a 12-shot improvement on his opening round and lifted Kawamura into a tie for seventh on six under par.

Dubai Invitational winner Tommy Fleetwood celebrated his 33rd birthday with a 70 to finish five under.

American Zach Johnson made 10 birdies on a low-scoring first day of the American Express PGA Tournament, sharing the lead with Sweden’s Alex Noren.

Johnson hit seven of his 10 birdies on the front nine at La Quinta in California, while Noren had an eagle, nine birdies and a double bogey to finish on 10-under par.

After the day’s play, the American Ryder Cup captain said he has “put a lot of good work in as of late”.

He said: “Actually been a lot of normal golf work, given what happened last year, with what I was responsible for, which was awesome. Now it’s time to get back to work. I’ve enjoyed the work. I’ve enjoyed the sweat.”

Tied in third place and just one stroke off the lead are Rico Hoey from the Philippines and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

They are ahead of nine players tied at eight-under including Americans Xander Schauffele and Scott Stallings.

Rory McIlroy was left to rue a poor finish to his opening round in the defence of his Hero Dubai Desert Classic title.

Seeking a record fourth victory in the event at Emirates Golf Club, McIlroy made an excellent start with four birdies in the first nine holes and bounced back from a bogey on the first – his 10th hole – with a birdie on the second.

However, the world number two then three-putted the sixth, duffed a chip on the seventh to drop another shot and also bogeyed the eighth to card a disappointing one-under-par 71.

That left the four-time major winner four shots off the lead shared by 2018 winner Li Haotong, England’s Andy Sullivan, American Cameron Young and Denmark’s Rasmus Hojgaard.

Li missed the cut or withdrew from his last 16 events in 2023 but finished 14th in last week’s Dubai Invitational and carried on where he left off with seven birdies and two bogeys in his 67.

“I think I played just as solid as last week,” the three-time DP World Tour winner said.

“I’ve been working on a lot of stuff during the wintertime and (am starting to) see some results like this. I can’t believe it’s six years since my win here.

“It’s a lot of great memories and hopefully I can continue to do some magic here.”

Sullivan’s form also came as something of a welcome surprise, the former Ryder Cup player carding a bogey-free 67 on his debut appearance in 2024.

“First event of the year for me so you’re always a bit anxious,” Sullivan said.

“You never know quite how you’ve done in practice. Could be playing brilliantly, and then you never know until you put it into tournament rounds.

“I felt like I grew into the round well. I didn’t feel like I started great, but then sort of got around the turn and felt like I was swinging it a lot better and felt like I could go at a few more flags and the putter got hot. Massively satisfied.”

Young looked unlikely to enjoy a share of the lead when he bogeyed the ninth to reach the turn in one over par, but the world number 25 birdied the 10th, 13th, 16th and 17th before holing from 50 feet for an eagle on the last.

“I played really well,” Young said. “The front-nine scoring was a little bit hard to come by.

“I played better than that so I was really happy with the back nine, happy just that I stayed patient throughout the front nine and kind of let it come to me late. To make those birdies and eagle on the last was tremendous.”

England’s Richard Mansell was part of a seven-strong group on four under par, with former world number one Adam Scott and Dubai Invitational winner Tommy Fleetwood another stroke back.

Rory McIlroy fears golf will remain “fractured forever” unless the opportunity to create a more global game is embraced now.

McIlroy recently laid out his dream scenario of a world tour incorporating “corporate America” and Saudi Arabian investment, but one which also elevates historic national Opens in the likes of Australia and South Africa.

The four-time major winner also suggested that LIV Golf could “turn into the IPL (cricket’s Indian Premier League) of golf”, with the Saudi-funded breakaway taking two months of the year to showcase team competition.

However, McIlroy acknowledged the difficulty of getting all factions in golf’s civil war aligned, with Sergio Garcia having already responded to his former Ryder Cup team-mate’s suggestion.

“I don’t think we want to be important for one month. We all deserve more than that,” Garcia said.

Asked about those comments ahead of his title defence in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, McIlroy said: “Yeah, Sergio feels he deserves a lot of things.

“It’s [about] trying to align interests and I think right now it’s just very, very hard to align everyone’s interests in the game.

“I think what we need to do first is align interests of the players and the business and the fans and the media. And then once you do that, then you can move forward.

“It’s the aligning of interests which is the big key to trying to get to that dream scenario.

“If this global tour somehow comes to fruition in the next few years, could you imagine bringing the best 70 or 80 golfers in the world to India for a tournament?

“I think that would change the game and the perception of the game in a country like that.

“There’s so much opportunity out there to go global with it, and I’ve said this for the last few months, but golf is at an inflection point, and if golf doesn’t do it now, I fear that it will never do it and we’ll have this fractured landscape forever.”

McIlroy is seeking a record fourth victory in this week’s event after holding off Patrick Reed in controversial circumstances 12 months ago.

The pair had begun the week embroiled in a war of words after Reed threw a tee towards McIlroy after being snubbed by him on the practice range.

With McIlroy watching from the tee, Reed also became involved in another rules controversy in the third round when his tee shot on the 17th lodged in a palm tree.

The former Masters champion and rules officials used binoculars to identify the ball, allowing Reed to take a penalty drop near the base of the tree instead of having to return to the tee.

Reed insisted he was “100 per cent” sure that he could identify his ball, although television footage appeared to cast doubt on which tree it had landed in.

“I remember standing on the 10th tee [in the final round] and I think Patrick had just made eagle and I’m just like (dropping head), ‘Had to be him’,” McIlroy recalled.

“But I think just the mental fortitude I showed on that back nine to not let my emotions get the better of me and really stay focused, and yeah, just to make that birdie on the last to win by one, it meant a lot to me.”

Rory McIlroy has labelled the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award a “popularity contest” for which he forgot he was even nominated.

England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps won the accolade in December ahead of retired England cricketer Stuart Broad and world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, jockey Frankie Dettori and McIlroy were the three other sports stars on the shortlist, but McIlroy did not attend the ceremony, provide a video message or give a live in-show interview.

Asked ahead of his title defence at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic if he was among those who question the relevance of the award, the Northern Irishman said: “Actually, whatever the results, I forgot I was nominated.

“So that’s how much I think about it. It’s a popularity contest and I think it’s just really not what it once was.”

Only two golfers have won the Sports Personality of the Year award in its 69-year history.

Dai Rees won in 1957 after captaining Great Britain to victory in the Ryder Cup at Lindrick and Nick Faldo came out on top in 1989 after claiming his second major title in the Masters.

Matt Fitzpatrick failed to make the shortlist despite winning the US Open in 2022, while McIlroy finished second behind Lewis Hamilton in 2014, a year in which he won the Open Championship and US PGA.

Ashton O'Kola is already making the rounds as a top young golfer in and out of the Caribbean region, and if his 2023 campaign is anything to go by, then 2024 could be even better, and he is very much looking forward to the challenge.

O'Kola, who turns eight on April 5, has taken the golf world by storm and has already racked up quite a portfolio having played in the United States of America, South Africa, Uganda, Brazil, Italy and England, last year.

"Well, I have already qualified for the 2024 Junior World Championships at Pinehurst, so I'll definitely be there in August. I am hoping to defend my title at Pepsi Little People's in 2024 too.  I am really looking forward to the Venice Open. I liked that tournament a lot," O'Kola said in a recent interview.

When asked if he felt any pressure when on the course, the golfer, who is based in Barbados with his Jamaican parents, exuded his usual confidence.

"No, when I'm on the course I don't feel anything, I just try to make the next shot better. Sometimes when I was younger like in 2020 and 2021, I used to get mad at myself if I hit a bad shot but getting mad just messed up my other shots after.  Now in 2023 going into 2024, I'm a lot older and stronger and I don't get as mad. I just try to make the next shot better," he shared.

In a tournament in Doral, United States late December, O'Kola won ahead of Dacio Diaz (36) of Florida, and Canada's bronze medallist Edouard Marchand (38). Among his other wins in 2023 were the Barbados Junior Grand Slam, the Big 5 for boys 6 and Under in South Africa, the New York State Champion for Boys Under-6 and the 9-hole State Farm Youth Classic. 

O’Kola, who is not a stranger to international competitions, attends Providence Elementary School. 

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